My name is Lizzie Buchanan and I am a 21-year-old dressage rider from Toowoomba QLD.
I have been riding since before I could walk and have competed across a variety of disciplines through pony club and interschool competitions before focusing on dressage.
I was lucky enough to get my first serious dressage pony in 2006. Phantom Park Empire (Babe, or the little devil as he was better known) was trained up to FEI dressage and was also a whiz around jumping and cross-country courses. We were lucky enough to be selected on to 2 QLD Interschool teams (2008 and 2010), as well as the QLD Pony Dressage Squad (2007 and 2008) and the QLD Young Rider Squad (2012). Unfortunately, as he got older, soundness was an issue with the higher-level work so he got a well-deserved rest in the paddock. Babe and I formed a great partnership, had many successes together and I credit him with much of my ability today – he definitely taught me how to hang on and ride!!
Once I could no longer ride Babe, I moved onto my mother’s young warmbloods (running a stud left me with a few to choose from!). Training wise, it was back to the basics for me but it taught me so much and I now love training my own young ones and working out problems. I established a number of horses at novice level before they were sold on. During this time, I was also offered the ride on our good friends medium/advanced level horse, Kinnordy Gyps. This helped me continue learning and establishing the higher level movements whilst I was teaching the young ones. We were lucky enough to score over 66% at our first competition (medium level) after only 2 rides together. We went on to win the 2012 QLD Interschool Championships Medium Dressage with over 70% and represent QLD at Nationals in 2012. I was lucky enough to have my first Prix St George start on him.
At the end of 2012, Regency Lara was brought into work after being broken in and having 2 years off. Over the last 5 years we have trained to medium/advanced and had many success along the way. We had a great event at the 2013 Interschool States, winning Prelim champions with both tests over 70%. This allowed me to qualify for my final Interschool Nationals, where I was QLD Dressage Captain. At this event I rode a pool horse, Willowtree Serendipity and had great rides, being named Reserve Champion Medium Dressage.
Lara and I have been solidifying our training at members competitions the last couple of years whilst I finished my degree, but I hope to now compete at more official competitions and work towards our first FEI start later this year.
At home I also have Regency Lawson, Lara’s half brother who is the first horse I have broken in. As he has been a slow maturer we have been taking his training slow, and hope to be ready to come out and compete official novice later this year. I also have a 3 year old welsh pony colt, Pen-nant Flash Jack, who is in the process of being broken in. I hope to compete him in the Young Pony classes at the Pony Championships in October.
Training wise, as well as the handful of coaches I have lessons with, I train with Ilse Schwarz whenever she returns to Australia. I have been lucky enough to work for her at her home base in Florida on 2 occasions. This has been instrumental in my riding and has opened my eyes to the dressage scene overseas.
Ultimately I hope to one-day represent Australia, but my main goal is to keep learning and enjoy the training of my horses along the way. It’s not worth it unless you’re having fun!!
My Summary of 2017
After getting the horses back into training mode after Christmas, 2017 started with a months working holiday at what can only be described as equestrian heaven – Wellington, Florida, during their Winter Equestrian Festival. My second time at Australian Ilse Schwarz’s barn proved yet again to be invaluable training both in the saddle and just general day-to-day horse care and running of a professional barn.
After returning, Regency Lara was put into boot camp mode and our season planned out to align with my goals for the year. We did the usual trips to local members days at Toowoomba and Gatton, resulting in continually improving scores and multiple win’s and placing’s, as well as travelling to QSEC at Caboolture for a couple of bigger competitions.
My greatest achievement for the year, results wise, was at the National Young Riders Championships in July. It was my last year as a young rider (unless we make it back at FEI this year – fingers crossed!), and competing against other riders you have grown up with is always great fun. We received some great comments from the judges and were lucky enough to place 2nd in the Advanced Freestyle.
My most memorable moment was finally getting clean flying changes in our tests. After a few years of trying different methods, we finally got our training into the ring and received great comments from the judges. No greater feeling then knowing that all the hours of hard work and training has finally paid off! Now we can continue training the more difficult movements and keep progressing to FEI.
I like to reward my horses after every training session, but since becoming apart of the Equine Pure Team, it’s become very clear what all my team prefers. They always let me know if I’ve forgotten their Equine Pure treats after their ride!
2018 will be a very busy year for us. Between fulltime work and study, I am hoping Lara will make her Prix St George debut early in the year. I also have a young pony stallion, Pen-nant Flash Jack, who I am hoping to get out to some Young Pony and Official competitions, and Regency Lawson who I hope to take out and give some more competition experience.
I am so grateful to everyone who supports me, especially Equine Pure, and I am looking forward to a great year ahead.